The Final Argument - Romans 5:18-21

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:18-21).

 

We are in Romans 5:18-21. These last four verses in Romans 5 bring to conclusion a massive section on justification by faith alone. This section began in Romans 3:21 and now concludes in Romans 5:21. For two and a half chapters, Paul has belabored the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith alone. It is one unit of thought and it is the heart of the gospel. As we come to these last four verses, Paul makes his final appeal in this argument.

 

Paul is very lawyer-like as we look at these verses. He is precise and persuasive in making his argument of justification by faith alone in Christ alone and fully developing it. As we come to Romans 5:18-21, Paul has already presented his case. He has called to the witness stand two chief witnesses, Abraham and David, in chapter four. They both testified that justification is by faith alone apart from any works. Paul called additional evidence into the courtroom, making one point after another, after another. He has presented an airtight argument for this doctrine. There is no possible mistaking what he said. He used negative denial and positive assertion. He showed how justification does not happen, and how it does happen. He has shown what justification is. It has been a masterful presentation. In fact, it is the most comprehensive presentation of the doctrine of justification in the entire Bible.

 

As we come to the last four verses in chapter five, Paul is like the lawyer who has one final opportunity to address the jury and judge and present his summation. This is what we will call the climactic presentation. It is his final argument for justification by faith alone. To remind us all, justification is, very simply, when God declares the guilty sinner to be righteous under the Law. He does not make us righteous in our present day-to-day lives – we continue to sin. But God declares us to be righteous, such that our status is dramatically changed. We have gone from a position of condemnation to one of justification. There could not be a more dramatic change in our position before God. It is based upon what Christ has done for us in His sinless life and substitutionary death.

 

We will begin reading in verse 18. This is Paul’s final argument for justification by faith alone.

 

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:18-21).

 

There is a wealth of truth packed tightly into these verses. In order to break this up, I will give you three main headings. In verse 18, we have the summation. In verse 19, we have the explanation. Then in verses 20-21, we have the conclusion. I think it makes it easier to deal with these verses when we break them down into smaller units.

 

I. The Summation of the argument (5:18)

 

Looking at verse 18, Paul gives the summation of this section on justification. He begins with, “So then.” This signals that we are coming to the bottom line. He is going to pull everything forward and summarize what he has just said in verses 12-17 and in this larger section on justification in Romans 3:21-5:21. He states, “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men.” Paul is making a comparison. The first part of the comparison is the transgression of Adam. Then the second part, which is in the second half of the verse, outlines the act of Christ on our behalf.

 

“As through one transgression…” The word for “transgression” means ‘a false step, departing from the path, departing from the way, to go astray.’ This refers to when Adam first sinned in the garden in Genesis 3. This whole argument presupposes the historicity of Adam. He was not a mythical figure or an imaginary person. The whole argument would break down if Adam was not a real person. He was a real person. He was the first man that God ever created. He was as real as Jesus Christ was real. If Adam was mythical, then so was Jesus Christ mythical. To say that is blasphemy. As Paul begins, his argument is built upon the historicity of Adam and the reality of the first man.

 

Adam’s Sin

“As through one transgression…” That “one transgression” is when Adam took the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had set a prohibition that Adam could eat from the entire garden, except from this one tree. Adam had the entire world at his disposal, except for one tree. He had it all. He had everything. Satan drew him in and lied to him, saying, “God is not good to you. He is holding out on you.”

 

If Adam ate from this tree, Satan said, he would have the knowledge of good and evil. But we are to be innocent of evil. It was the goodness of God that put the fence of prohibition around this one tree. Yet Adam was lured in, and he took the fruit. It was the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (I John 2:15-16). He saw it with his eyes, he desired it in his heart, and as an act of flagrant, defiant disobedience to God, with his eyes wide open, Adam took the fruit of which God had said, “You shall not eat of this fruit.” In that act, he transgressed against God.

 

“So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation.” There was the immediate condemnation imputed “to all men,” to the entire human race. Adam’s one sin was charged immediately to the account of every person who would ever be conceived in their mother’s womb. That is what Romans 5:12 says, “just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.” It is as though we were in Adam and participated in that sin. That is how real it was. God imputed his sin to all men as though we had committed the disobedience. This imputation happened immediately, it happened vicariously, and it happened forensically, all at once.

 

Six thousand plus years ago, Adam’s sin was credited to your account. Before you were even conceived, before you ever committed an individual act of sin, you were already a sinner. That is what this text clearly says. It indicates how holy God is. How many sins must one commit before they are condemned before God? . Just one sin before a holy God brings condemnation. This condemnation is not temporal, it is eternal condemnation under eternal judgment. It is not the case of the proverbial scales, where God balances righteousness and sin, and if our sin outweighs our righteousness, then we stand condemned before God.

 

Paul reinforces this solidarity of the human race in Adam. He acted as our representative before God. Whatever Adam did affected the entire human race. If you want to know what is wrong with the world, I can give it to you in two words: original sin. When Adam sinned, the floodgates of sin and death were opened. This is what is wrong with the entire world.

 

The second half of verse 18 reads, “even so,” meaning ‘in like manner,’ “through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” This obviously refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the original language, it literally says, “even so by one accomplished righteousness.” This speaks of the entirety of Jesus’ life and death. Not just to His death, but to His entire incarnation, both to His sinless life and His substitutionary death.

 

“All Men”

“There resulted justification of life to all men.” Justification is God declaring the guilty sinner to be right under the law. When Paul says, “to all men,” some take “all men” to mean the entire human race, paralleling the beginning of the verse. Adam’s sin brought condemnation to all men, and, they claim, Christ’s one act of righteousness brought justification to all men. But this needs some clarification. Theologians must make careful distinctions.

 

The “all men” here does not refer to the entire human race. If it did, then we have departed from the teaching of sound doctrine taught in the rest of Scripture. If such was the case, we have emptied hell of every unbeliever. “All men” does not refer to every human being who has ever lived. That would be called universalism. There are some rankly liberal theologians, if you can even call them that, who believe that everyone will be saved in the end. They believe that God is so loving and His mercy is so wide that no one will be condemned in the end. They point to this verse to back up their thinking. That is insanity.

 

The “all men” refers to all those whom Christ came into this world to save, and all those for whom He died upon the cross. It refers, not to Adam’s fallen race, but to a specific group out of Adam’s fallen race. It refers to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone who exercises personal faith in the Jesus Christ is represented here by the phrase “all men.” This refers to all the elect of God, all those whom the Father chose in eternity past.

 

Paul will develop this thought in chapters 8-9 with crystal clear precision. “Those whom He foreknew, He predestined. Those whom He predestined, He called. Those whom He called, He justified. And those whom He justified, He glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). Standing behind this are the doctrines of sovereign election and divine predestination. In Romans 9, Paul will open the lens up even greater and talk about Jacob and Esau. “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.” Before the twins were yet born, God had already made a distinguishing choice. That is hardball theology, but it is the truth. To recap, the “all men” does not refer to the entire human race. It refers to all men within the elect whom the Father gave to the Son in eternity past.

 

Some would say, and you may even have a Study Bible that has this at the bottom – if so you will want to whiteout this footnote – that Christ did this “potentially” for all men. That is, hypothetically, potentially, based upon man’s faith, He died for the whole world, yet it is made real only in the lives of those who believe. That interpretation defies the language used here. Please note the word “resulted.” That is not a hypothetical consequence. That is not a potential effect. There was a definite result that came from the sinless life and substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ. That definite result was “justification to all men.” There is nothing hypothetical or potential there. It was a definite transaction that occurred between the Son and the Father on behalf of all who would receive it. We have to make that distinction. There are so many places in the Bible where the word “all” does not refer to every man who has ever lived. The word “all” simply means ‘a large group’ in many different contexts.

 

This is the summation Paul makes as he recaps what he has been saying in verses 12-17. We have to know that the entire world is found either in Adam or in Christ. There is not a third or fourth category. Those who are in Christ are those who have been taken out of the first category, out of the entire human race of those who are in Adam.

 

II. The Explanation of the summary (5:19)

 

Paul, being the master teacher that he is, gives an explanation for what he stated in verse 18. He begins with the word “for,” which assigns a reason for what he just said. “For as through the one man’s disobedience…” Notice that Paul uses the word “disobedience.” In verse 18, the term “transgression” was used, and here it is “disobedience.” Adam’s act of transgression was a willful, volitional, choice of his will in disobedience. It was a flagrant act of disobedience against the holy, sovereign God who had created him and placed him in paradise. It was disobedience against the very command of God in Genesis 2:17.

 

Paul continues, “the many were made sinners.” “The many” refers to the “all men” in verse 18. It shows the vastness of those who were made sinners. They were constituted to be sinners in the eyes of a holy God. This is an important point of theology for us. It is a cornerstone truth. Everyone with sound doctrine is very clear on this point. However, this is one of the departure points for those who end up with a weak theology. If you tell me what you believe about Genesis 1-3, I can tell you what you believe about the rest of the Bible. It is that foundational.

 

The Active Obedience of Christ

“Even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” The word “obedience” parallels “disobedience” in the first half of verse 19. Paul introduces a very important truth here regarding the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Theologians who are very careful in their teaching of Scripture make a distinction in the obedience of Christ. There is what is called the active obedience of Christ, and there is the passive obedience of Christ. Both are critically important. The active obedience of Christ is Christ’s sinless life, in which He lived in perfect obedience to the Law of God and to the will of God, throughout the entirety of His earthly life. This is very important, because where we have broken the law, where Adam broke God’s law, Jesus Christ triumphed and succeeded in keeping the law. This is the active obedience of Christ. It has secured the perfect righteousness that is imputed to us at the moment of justification. It is a real righteousness that Christ achieved through His active obedience to the Law of God.

 

Galatians 4:4-5 supports this idea of active obedience. It says that Christ was “born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were born under the Law.” To be under the Law is to be in a position of direct accountability to the Law. It means to be responsible to the Father to obey the Law. When Jesus came into this world, He was born of a virgin under the Law of God, meaning He must obey the Law of God, just as you or I must obey the Law of God. Jesus obeyed the Law perfectly in our place. It is that perfect obedience that secured perfect righteousness, which God deposits into our account when we believe in Christ. This is a very important distinction. It was accomplished by His obedience to the Law of God. That is the first part of this obedience, Jesus’ active obedience throughout His entire life.

 

The Passive Obedience of Christ

The second part is what we call His passive obedience. By passive, we do not mean that Jesus was involuntary. We mean that it involved the passion of Christ in His death as He submitted Himself to the cross. The passive obedience of Christ speaks of Him laying down His life for us at the cross. He was passive in that He laid down His life. Because He actively laid down His life, His life was not taken from Him. He freely gave Himself at the cross for us. That is why theologians stress that the word “passive” emphasizes the passion in which He did this. Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden. He hung in agony upon the cross, that cruel torture chamber of a crucifixion. It was in His passive obedience upon the cross that our sins were transferred to Christ. He bore our sins in His body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24), and carried our sins far away as our scapegoat. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

 

His blood was shed even before the cross. Jesus’ blood was shed at His own circumcision on the eighth day of His life. It was shed as He sweat drops of blood in the garden. But it was the blood that was shed upon the cross in His passive obedience that washed away our sins. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

An Entire Life of Obedience

The phrase “obedience of the One” in verse 19 is very important. It includes Jesus’ active obedience throughout the entirety of His life, as well as His passive obedience upon the cross. This involved His entire life of obedience, not just His six hours upon the cross. R.C. Sproul brings out this great point that if all that was necessary was the six hours of obedience upon the cross, Jesus could have saved us in one weekend. Redemption could have been accomplished in a weekend mission. But instead, it required an entire life of obedience to the Law of God for us to be made righteous. Not only did Christ die in our place, He also lived in our place. He not only died bearing our sins in our place, He also lived being obedient to the Law of God in our place.

 

“Even so, through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” The “many” is as wide as the “all men” at the end of verse 18. It is not simply a few who will be declared righteous, it is many who will be declared righteous. We see this in the enormous crowd of saints gathered around the throne in Rev 5:8, which has come from every tribe and tongue and people. There is a vastness of those who will be declared righteous.

 

III. The Conclusion of the Section (5:20-21)

 

We now come to the last two verses. Paul returns to where he began this section. At first glance, verses 20-21 may seem to be an awkward addition to the argument he is making. But in Romans 3:21, Paul says, “now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested.” He now concludes this section on justification exactly as he began it. This is a literary devise that we call inclusio or inclusion, where a phrase is used as bookends on both ends of a segment. In other words, it concludes as it began. Some books are very effectively written like this. The opening pages and the closing pages mirror each other. This is what Paul is doing. In Romans 5:20, he comes back to where He began. He returns to the Law.

 

Paul says in Romans 3:21, “the righteousness of God has come” apart from the Law. We might ask then, what is the purpose of the Law if the Law cannot save us? Paul tells us in Romans 5:20, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase.” This does not mean that God gave the Law so that there would be more sin in the world, implying He is the author of sin. James chapter one is very clear that God is not the author of sin. “The Law came in,” the Greek work for “came in” (pareiserchomai) is a word that begins with the prefix ‘para’ from which we derive ‘parallel.’ The Law came in next to the transgression, so that it would increase in this sense. It entered so that we would have a heightened sense of awareness of sin. The Law brings the knowledge of sin, and even provokes our flesh to sin.

 

The Knowledge of Sin

Paul will say later in Romans 7:6-7 that he would not have known sin except by the Law. The Law gives us the knowledge of sin. You might ask why God would want to give us the knowledge of sin. It was so that we would run to Christ for salvation. No one is saved until they know they are lost. You do not go to the doctor until you think something is wrong. With only a little knowledge that you are sick, you put it off. But a greater realization that you are sick and something is wrong with you drives you to get into the car to go to the doctor so that you can be examined and have the remedy applied to you.  The Law operates just like this.

 

If we only had a little knowledge of sin, we would think we could overcome it. We would think we could do more good things to balance our account with God. We would assume, wrongly so, that we will be fine with God. But if you see that you have a Mt. Everest of sin standing between you and God, you realize you need a Savior. You need justification by faith. You need to be declared righteous. You desperately need the righteousness of the One who has, by His obedience, met all the requirements of the Law, and can give to you a perfect righteousness, thereby giving you a right standing before God. It is this increased knowledge of sin that drives you to Christ. That is one of the proper uses of the Law.

 

An Ally to Evangelism

The Law is an ally to evangelism. The Law is a partner with us in trying to reach people for Christ. We have the saving remedy in Christ. We have the life-giving solution in the gospel. But the tragedy is, nobody wants it because they think they are fine before God. We need the Law to reveal to them their huge debt of sin that they have incurred before God.

 

When the rich young ruler came before Jesus in Matthew 19:16, he said, “What one thing must I do to receive eternal life?” Jesus preached the Law to him. This young man was so smug in his self-righteousness that he thought he merely needed to do something to add a plus to his A, and he would be fine with God. That is why Jesus read the second half of the Law, which is the easier half to keep. The young ruler said, “I have kept these since my youth.” To which Jesus replied, “Then go and sell all you have.” Jesus saw that he had idols in his heart. It is not wrong to have possessions, but He saw that his things had taken possession of him. He lived for this world and the things of this world.

 

It was the Law that brought the knowledge of sin. But he was not willing to give it up. He walked away, and Jesus was sad. We, too, should use the Law to show people that they have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They are not to be comparing themselves to anyone else horizontally. They must compare themselves to the holiness of God vertically. They must see that they have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. That is the idea that Paul is getting at here.

 

The Function of the Law

The Law defines sin for us. The Law reveals sin to us. The Law exposes sin’s power. The Law unveils sin’s deceit. The Law does all of that. The Law is like putting a microscope over our heart and revealing the wretched depravity within our heart. The Law is also like a measuring rod, by which we measure ourselves and see that we have fallen woefully short of God’s standard. The Law pronounces the curse of death upon everyone who breaks the Law. The penalty for breaking the Law is contained within the Law itself.

 

That is why, in verse 20, Paul comes back to the Law, which is where he began this section on justification. The purpose of the Law is not to save you, but to show you your need to be saved. It drives you to Jesus Christ, the only One who ever kept the Law perfectly. That is another reason why Jesus had to become a man. He had to enter the human race so that He could keep the Law that we had broken.

 

“The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but,” – and here is the good news – “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” This is the superabundance of grace that is able to save the chief of sinners. The word “abound” (huperperisseuo) has a prefix (huper) in front of it meaning ‘above, beyond, superior to.’ Grace ‘hyper-abounds’ above and beyond our sin. We could translate it as ‘super-abound.’ Our sin is great, but the grace of God is even greater. We gain more in Christ than we lost in Adam. We gain more by grace than we have lost by sin. Some might say their life has been so wretched and sinful that there is no way God could save them. The response to this is that they have now idea how super-abounding is the grace of God.

 

John Bunyan: A Sinner Like Me

This is the very text that God used to convert John Bunyan and bring him into the kingdom of heaven. Bunyan was a wretched sinner with a foul mouth. He was rough and crude, he ran with the worst reprobates in town. One day, he overheard some women talking in town about how he was such a rebel. He was struck with the reality of his foul mouth and wicked heart. He saw this verse and realized that no matter how much sin increased in his life, the grace of God super-abounded all the more. There was hope for a sinner like him. God used that as the converting text to bring him into the kingdom of heaven.

 

One day, Bunyan would write the book that would become the second greatest best seller in the world after the Bible itself, Pilgrim’s Progress. He became a great preacher of the gospel. He spent twelve years in prison, and they never locked the door. He could have left at any point, but he said that as soon as he left, he would be preaching the gospel again. They would arrest him and put him right back in prison. So there was no point in leaving. He had a blind daughter and could have rationalized that his wife and family needed him, and, therefore, he should no longer preach. But he refused to think like that. He stayed in prison for a dozen years and wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. Charles Spurgeon said that every page of Pilgrim’s Progress has the smell of the prison in it. God does His greatest work when we are squeezed in the vice grip of adversity and difficulty. That was the testimony of John Bunyan.

 

John Owen, the greatest theologian of the Puritan Age, said he would give up all of his learning if he could but preach like the tinker of Bedford, John Bunyan. For Bunyan, Romans 5:20 was the greatest news he had ever heard in his entire life. He became painfully aware of his sin. He had a heightened sense of awareness that he was a foul, wretched, guilty sinner before a holy God. He knew that he needed super-abounding grace to make him right before God, to wash him, and to cleanse him. That is what he found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is what you and I find in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Two Kingdoms, Two Kings

 “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that” – here is the purpose – “so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life” (Romans 5:20-21). Verse 21 tells us that there are two kingdoms, and two kings who reign over these two kingdoms. Everyone is in one of these two kingdoms.

 

There is the kingdom over which sin reigns in death – physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death. Sin is the cruelest tyrant that there has ever been. Sin is far more malicious than Hitler, Stalin, or anyone who has ever walked this earth. In fact, sin – the great tyrant – reigned over those evil tyrants and drove them to do what they did. Those who are in this kingdom obey their king. That is why someone who is unconverted and lost obeys sin. This tyrant has a death-grip on their heart, on their will, and on their mind. Death reigns in sin. You and I were born into this kingdom when we entered this world. Sin reigned over out life, and we had the stench of death upon us.

 

But praise God for the reign of grace. “Even so grace would reign through righteousness.” The reign of grace is the antithesis to the reign of sin. Grace is loving, gracious, kind, and has our best interest at heart. Grace reigns over a kingdom of purity, righteousness, and love. Paul says, “even so grace would reign through righteousness.” The reign of grace is a strong, powerful force in the lives of all believers.

 

Jesus Christ Our Lord

Then Paul concludes verse 21 saying, “to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul mentions all three names of Jesus to be emphatic. Each carries a specific meaning and reveals a unique aspect of His saving work.

 

“Jesus” is His saving name, which means ‘Jehovah saves.’ Jesus is God in human flesh come to save sinners. Matthew 1:21 says, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus has come to save. We need to ask the question, “Saved from what?” The answer is that we are not saved from loneliness, or personal insecurity, or bad in-laws, or a boring job. Jesus has come to save us from the wrath of God, which is the curse of the Law. He has come to rescue us from eternal destruction, and in that sense, He has come to save us from Himself. The name “Jesus” means He is a Savior of sinners.

 

The name “Christ” is His strong name, which means the ‘anointed one.’ He is the One who has come in the power of the Holy Spirit, with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He has been endued with supernatural might to triumph in this mission of salvation. That is why Jesus was anointed in the River Jordan at the inauguration of His public ministry. It was so that within His humanity, He would be supernaturally empowered to triumph in His mission of salvation upon the earth.

 

Then the name “Lord” (kurios) means the ‘sovereign One, despot, ruler, king.’ That is His sovereign name. All three names bring out a different aspect of the Lord Jesus Christ and who He is. Paul comes down with a strong, validating stamp. He ends this section on justification by strongly emphasizing the One who has secured our righteousness. The One who has kept the Law on our behalf. The One who has died in our place, Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

The apostle Peter proclaimed in Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else; for there in no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” No one else has kept the Law on my behalf. No one else has died bearing my sins. Salvation is found exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way to leave the kingdom of death, over which sin reigns, and enter the kingdom of life, over which grace reigns, is through the new birth and through justification by faith alone. God has provided the way of escape from the kingdom of sin and death, enabling us to enter into the kingdom of grace and life, and it is through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

The Only Way of Escape

If you have never believed upon Jesus Christ, I want to say to you that God has provided the remedy to escape His wrath upon your life. He has provided the solution to your dilemma. It is in the gospel of Jesus Christ. You were born into this world as a resident of the kingdom of death, held in the grip of sin. There is only one way for you to escape and to enter into a right standing before God. It is to throw yourself upon the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came into this world on a mission of salvation. He was born under the Law in order to keep the Law that you have broken again and again. You are a violator of God’s Law. You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. There is only one way for you to have a right standing under the Law before God, and that is to believe in the One who kept the Law for you, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

There is only one way for your sins to be taken away. You must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who bore the sins of all who would believe upon Him when He hung upon the cross, dying in our place. By that death, He satisfied the holy demands of a righteous God. He offers salvation to you as a free, prepaid gift. There is nothing that you can bring to the table to add to what Christ has done. Salvation is apart from your attempts to keep the Law. It is by faith alone in Christ alone.

 

If you have never believed upon Jesus Christ, it is no coincidence that you are hearing this today. I urge you and plead with you to give your life to Christ. Believe upon Him. Confess your sin to Him. You will find much grace, forgiveness, and perfect righteousness in His saving arms. I urge you to flee to Christ, run to Christ, and in Him you will find the treasures of eternal life. May you do so this moment and this day, right where you are.

 

Four Takeaways

By way of application, I want you to see four things from this study.

 

First, I want you to see the power of sin. I want you to see how powerful sin is. As you think of your life, I want you to be aware of the devastating power of just one sin in your life.

 

Second, I want you to see the effect of sin. I want you to see how one sin can affect so many people. Sin does not happen in isolation on a deserted island. Sin always affects other people. It affects your family, it affects your friends, it affects the people around you. We see this in today’s text.

 

Third, I want you to see the importance of obedience. There is such a downplaying of obedience in the young, restless, and reformed arena. I hear people talking negatively about the “duty” of obedience. You are in neglect of the clear teaching of Scripture if you downplay obedience. It was important for Christ, and it is also important for your Christian life. Romans 6:17-18 says obedience must come from the heart. We should not have a cold, legalistic, ritualistic obedience, but an obedience motivated by love for God and a passion for the obedience of Christ.

 

Fourth, I want you to see the greatness of grace. It is able to overcome the greatest sin and give salvation to the greatest sinners. In summary, remember how powerful just one sin is, how one sin affects so many people, how important obedience is, and how great grace is.

 

Response

We have a few minutes before we wrap up this study. Tell me what you have learned and what has stood out in these verses as Paul brings his summation argument.

 

Audience:        You stated, “although made righteous, or justified, we are still sinners.” Are you addressing original sin and the sinful acts one might be committing today, yet we are still saved striving not to sin but being thankful for God’s grace in sanctification.

 

Dr. Lawson:    We are forgiven of every sin past, present, and future. We are justified before God. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We will continue to sin, and starting in our next study, we will move into the section on sanctification. We will see that we are dead to sin, but sin is still alive in us.

 

Audience:        Are we still sinners because of the original sin, or are we still sinners because of the sin we are going to do after salvation? Is there a difference?

 

Dr. Lawson:    I will have to think about that question. I need to give some careful thought before I give a quick answer. Proverbs has more to say about the tongue than any other subject. I just preached on the tongue at The Master’s University. It has more to say about the restraint of the tongue than any other part of the use of the tongue. It has more to say about what we do not say than it addresses on what we do say. So I will ponder that question for a moment.

 

Let us close in a word of prayer.

 

Father, thank You for this study. I pray for those around the world who are watching, that You would minister to them in a very real and personal way. For us in this room today, my friends that I have gathered with for this Men’s Study, use these theologically profound, rich verses to make us stronger in the faith and have a greater realization of this so great salvation that the Lord has brought to us. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Dr. Steven J. Lawson

Dr. Steven J. Lawson is President and founder of OnePassion Ministries, a ministry designed to equip biblical expositors to bring about a new reformation in the church. Dr. Lawson hosts The Institute for Expository Preaching in cities around the world. Dr. Lawson is also a Teaching Fellow for Ligonier Ministries, where he serves on its board. Moreover, he is Professor of Preaching and oversees the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, where he also serves on its board. Dr. Lawson is also Professor in Residence for Truth Remains, a work designed to promote and proclaim God’s written Word. Further, Dr. Lawson serves as the Executive Editor for Expositor Magazine published by OnePassion Ministries.